President Barack Obama’s speech on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington President Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th and current President of the United States, and the first African American to hold this office. President Obama gave a speech following remarks at the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on August 28, 2013, at the Lincoln Memorial. President Obama gave this speech to remind Americas of how far we have come, to remember those who fought so people of different racial backgrounds can have the right to freedom.
President Obama states, “And so they came by the thousands, from every corner of our country — men and women, young and old, blacks who longed for freedom and whites who could no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subjugation of others” (25).
President Obama’s speech at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was a reminder of the history of African-Americans in the United States and the change that came afterwards.
President Obama establish common ground with the audience at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington by stating that “We rightly and best remember Dr. King’s soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions, how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike”(40).
It was because of Dr. Martin Luther King and other brave people that march to Washington that the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was begin held.
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President Obama speech was a success because he was able to relate to the audience. He quoted that, “Dr. King explained that the goals of African-Americans were identical to working people of all races: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. What King was describing has been the dream of every American” (130).
President Obama speech suits the audience with this statement,” The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history, that we are masters of our fate. But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together. We’ll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago” (200).
President Obama speech shows compelling facts, “That was the spirit young people like John Lewis brought that day.
That was the spirit that they carried with them like a torch back to their cities and their neighborhoods, that steady flame of conscience and courage that would sustain them through the campaigns to come, through boycotts and voter registration drives and smaller marches, far from the spotlight, through the loss of four little girls in Birmingham, the carnage of Edmund Pettus Bridge and the agony of Dallas, California, Memphis” (60-65).
And” To dismiss the magnitude of this progress, to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed — that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years.
Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr. , they did not die in vain” (100).
President Obama speech states data’s “Yes, there have been examples of success within black America that would have been unimaginable a half-century ago. But as has already been noted, black unemployment has remained almost twice as high as white employment (sic), Latino unemployment close behind. The gap in wealth between races has not lessened, it’s grown” (136-140).
President Obama speech appealed to the audience emotions with this statement, “For what does it profit a man, Dr. King would ask, to sit at an integrated lunch counter if he can’t afford the meal? This idea that one’s liberty is linked to one’s livelihood, that the pursuit of happiness requires the dignity of work, the skills to find work, decent pay, some measure of material security this idea was not new”(120).
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Also, “And I believe that spirit is there, that true force inside each of us.
I see it when a white mother recognizes her own daughter in the face of a poor black child. I see it when the black youth thinks of his own grandfather in the dignified steps of an elderly white man” (205).
President Obama also mentioned that, “We now have a choice. We can continue down our current path in which the gears of this great democracy grind to a halt and our children accept a life of lower expectations, where politics is a zero-sum game, where a few do very well while struggling families of every race fight over a shrinking economic pie.
That’s one path. Or we can have the courage to change” (195).
In conclusion, President Obama speech was persuasive, emotional and convincing. He was able to get through to the audience and pass his point across without offending anyone. The speech focuses the March to Washington and the freedom that came afterwards not just for African- Americans but also for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans, for Catholics, Jews and Muslims, for gays, for Americans with disabilities.